Houston Zoning Paperwork Request

HOUSTON ZONING PAPERWORK REQUEST An out-of-towner with “an (admittedly) strange fascination with Houston land development” is trying to locate a copy of the zoning ordinance that Houston voters rejected 17 years ago. “A classmate and I are trying to do a little stats project comparing the 1993 proposed ordinance to the land development that actually happened since then. We’d like to see how actual development patterns differed from what the planners envisioned (for better or worse). Of course, we’d be willing to share any interesting findings.” [Swamplot inbox]

9 Comment

  • I advise you to pass Beltway 8 driving any direction but East or Southeast. The post-1993 growth there is more insidious than any tallow tree. Also, consider observing the suburbanite in his native land. Be sure to note their lack of culture and obsession with large SUVs and outdoor cooking. You cannot truly understand sprawl without considering the poor souls who make it so.

  • um, 1993…that’s 17, not 7 years ago (though i wish it was 7)

  • @d: Thanks for the catch! Fixed now.

  • According to the archived article in this website, http://www.jstor.org/pss/3146764 (Land Economics, Feb 1995, 71 1,’Houston Remains Unzoned’ by John F. McDonald, 137-140) it sounds like the City of Houston Department of Planning and Development generated the proposed ordinance from 1991-1993. You might need to begin your research within the archives of that Department.

  • The City of Houston City Secretary’s office, if visited in person, may be able to help you. They may ask you why the heck you care, but if anyone can find it Anna Russel’s staff can.

  • When looking at the development, don’t forget that the City Zoning Ordinance would have only covered land actually in the City of Houston itself. A lot of the development in the 90’s and 00’s was in Harris County, inside of the City’s ETJ, but outside City limits. A City cannot enforce zoning outside of its limits.

  • Thanks to all for your comments and suggestions. We’ve put in a Freedom of Information Act request and are waiting to hear back from the city on obtaining the ordinance. MikeH, good point about the ETJ. More than likely, given the city’s size and time constraints, we might have to look at only a portion of the city for our study. We’ll likely focus on the Inner Loop; if time allows expand it to Beltway 8. For those familiar with the ordinance, any guesses on how things that were actually built in these locations after 1993 differed from what the zoning would have allowed? For example, would all the dense new townhouse developments have been allowed under the proposed ordinance?

  • For example, would all the dense new townhouse developments have been allowed under the proposed ordinance?

    I would imagine they wouldn’t have been since they don’t exactly fall into the “single-family home” designation. As I recall, most believed deed restrictions were sufficient to keep “single-family” neighborhoods “single-family” without actual zoning and of course they didn’t, did they?

  • My guess: VERY little development or redevelopment inside the Loop would have conflicted with the proposed zoning ordinance. At least 95% would have been in line with the “plan”. Of course, the “plan” was never really a plan at all. It was only a thinly disguised political power grab. We’re a whole lot better off without it.